The task at hand: brief your executives and the board on the progress you’ve made this quarter. Leaders and board members want to see what it is your team is doing, or whether and why you are or are not doing whatever is in their head. It’s important to present the status of engineering deliverables, but this can be difficult for engineering. You may know what they’re doing, but it can be a challenge to present this to the business and board members in a clear and engaging way. In this post, we’ll discuss how to present this topic with a slide template to help get your started.
Presenting Engineering Progress Against Deliverables
The 5 Slides R&D Leaders Should Show at Board Meetings includes a slide that can be used for the purpose of presenting engineering deliverables. Presenting this slide clearly will likely help address the following questions that your board members might ask during the meeting:
- When is feature X going to be done?
- What else is engineering working on? [and why aren’t they doing XYZ feature]?
- How long is that going to take/when are they going to be done with feature X?
This may be over simplifying, but at the end of the day, you as an engineering leader have one job: to get product out the door. Just as sales leaders have the job to get things sold, it is yours to build the things they will sell so that your users can use it. Your goal with this slide should be to communicate what is being done, when it will be shipped, and when it can be used (whether that means the sales team can start selling it, users can start using it, sales engineers can start demoing it, etc.). The board is looking to understand how your projects are being executed (on a macro level), any predicted pitfalls, and other targets for the year ahead.
Remember that, while this might seem pedantic to you, it isn’t coming from a place of mistrust. More often than not, business leaders simply have to plan around delivery for sales and marketing timelines, and the board wants to know that can happen.
The art here is to know exactly which things to surface and with what granularity. That will become easier as you get to know your board better. As you understand the cares of each member better, make sure to cover those. Focus on the deliverables that really tell your team’s story, and avoid topics that can confuse. The products built by the engineering team are what allow the rest of the company to sell, to profit, and to grow. It’s important that you tactfully remind the board of that up front.
Here are some points you might want to include on this first slide:
High-level Progress Report
- List the major features or deliverables in flight and the progress the team has made toward completion
- Any major bugs or customer requests, or other substantive efforts across the company that are worth paying attention to, as well as the status and/or % completion of those issues.
- Deliverables (Features/Issues/Projects) that management would stop you in the hall to ask about (the show-stoppers, for example “how’s that twitter integration coming?”)
- Compiled predictions (% completion, % burndown, or predicted ship date)
- Progress points: three months out, six months out, nine months out, and a year
- Any risks that might cause major delays
- Note: if you can’t give a prediction, then segment larger projects and talk through progress on each segment (for example, instead of the progress of “that twitter integration,” break it down into the Twitter API integration vs. Twitter UI vs. Twitter targeting, etc.)
Note: if you can’t give a prediction, then segment larger projects and talk through progress on each segment (for example, instead of the progress of “that twitter integration,” break it down into the Twitter API integration vs. Twitter UI vs. Twitter targeting, etc.)Being data-driven about the way you present to the leadership team and board will help you align the work your engineering teams do with the goals of the business, and foster trust and support for you.
Engineering Metrics for Board Meetings
As your group scales, it can become difficult to aggregate all the metrics necessary to properly build a presentation like the one above. It’s important to keep a steady state of communication with your engineering managers or directors to keep a pulse on things. But there are also tools to help you automate this process. Engineering Management Platforms (EMP) like Jellyfish aggregate engineering signals with business context to give better visibility into deliverable progress, product quality, investments, and productivity of the entire org. To see an example of the insights derived from EMPs, check out our product tour.
Interested in learning more about how to present engineering metrics to the board? Check out our other blog posts: